The PBO provides all parliamentarians with access to advice on the estimated financial implications, or ‘cost’, of their policy proposals. We are also available to provide broader analysis of the Budget. This helps to level the playing field by providing access to costing and other analytical services that, in the absence of the PBO, would normally be exclusively available to the Government. We do not provide policy advice on the merits or feasibility of proposals.
To commence a fiscal analysis of a policy proposal, we need to receive a request for advice from a parliamentarian. This request needs to include a detailed specification of the policy proposal including the key design elements of the policy and start dates. We then independently determine the most appropriate modelling methodology, data and assumptions (including around behavioural responses) to use to estimate the fiscal cost of the policy proposal, using our best professional judgement.
In the written costing response we provide to the parliamentarian, we provide an estimate of the fiscal cost of the policy proposal over the next 10 years and we outline the methodology, data and assumptions we have used. We also discuss the key sources of uncertainty associated with the costing. If requested, we can sometimes provide distributional analysis of the impact of the policy proposal, depending upon the availability of data and appropriate models.
Most of the costing advice we provide to parliamentarians is confidential, and it is up to the parliamentarian to release any information from the costing response. Costing responses prepared by the PBO that have been made public by their requester are published on our website.
For further information on costings, see the following PBO information papers: